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Kenya lies at the very heart of the East African Rift Valley. It is a place of world-class wildlife viewing and legendary game reserves. This places it amongst the most-visited of countries in the region.
Kenya is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The country has it all, from white sandy beaches, wildlife, desert to lush green vegetation. No matter your taste, you will find your desired destination within the borders of this lovely nation. To get you started, here are the best destinations in all of Kenya:
Game Parks and Game Reserves in Kenya
Some of the best game parks and game reserves to visit in Kenya include:
1. Maasai Mara National Reserve
Maasai Mara National Reserve (also “Masai Mara”) is one of Africa’s most magnificent game reserves. Bordering Tanzania, the Mara is the northern extension of the Serengeti and forms a wildlife corridor between the two countries.
It’s named after the statuesque, red-cloaked Maasai people who live in the park and graze their animals here, as they have done for centuries. In their language, Mara means “mottled,” perhaps a reference to the play of light and shadow from the acacia trees and cloud-studded skies on the vast grasslands.
The park is famous for the Great Migration, when thousands of wildebeest, zebra, and Thomson’s gazelle travel to and from the Serengeti, from July through October.
In the Mara River, throngs of hippos and crocodiles lurk. The park is also known for providing excellent predator sightings, thanks to its relatively large populations of lion, cheetah, and leopard – especially in the dry months from December through February.
2. Amboseli National Park
Amboseli National Park is found close to the border with Tanzania and at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. The word “Amboseli means “salty dust” in Masai language. This is in reference to the dry conditions on the park.
Amboseli is one of Kenya’s most visited national reserves. The key Best places to visit in Kenyaattractions in the park are one of Africa’s largest elephant herds and an opportunity to meet the Masai people for an amazing cultural experience. There is no better place to see wild elephants in large numbers than Amboseli National Park.
One can also spot lions, leopards, cheetahs, gazelle, eland, impala, waterbucks and giraffe. Over 600 species of birds can be spotted in the park. One will also be captivated by the greet savannah grasslands/woodlands, mountain views and the opportunity to learn about the Masai culture and customs.
Amboseli National Park can be reached by air from Nairobi in only 40 minutes.
3. Tsavo National Park
Tsavo East and West form Kenya’s most expansive protected area, sheltering around a third of the country’s elephants. The Tsavo West is the best bet for wildlife – lured here by the springs, rivers and rapids as well as swamplands and lakes.
Look out for hippos and crocs, as well as buffalo, black rhino, lion and leopard. The jagged lava landscapes of the Chyulu Hills create a surreal backdrop.
One of the oldest and largest national parks in all of East Africa, the great stretches of Tsavo East rarely fail to top charts of the finest safari destinations on the planet.
They can be found cascading down from the sun-baked highlands of the Chyulu Hills that straddle the border with Tanzania to the south; a mosaic of swaying savannah grasses and red-hued rocks that rise like escarpments from the dusty, arid grounds.
The eastern edge of the park is delineated by the flow of the Athi River, which gives way to the great stones of Yatta – one of the largest lava channels in the world. And then there are the animals: everything from white-tailed mongooses to cape buffalo, ground pangolins to cheetahs!
4. Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru now sits at the heart of its very own national park.
Just a small speck of blue on the Kenyan map, this curious body of water rises above the Great Rift Valley from between the acacia groves and meadows that surround it.
It’s famed primarily for its truly kaleidoscopic array of birdlife, which is defined by the pinkish glow of flamingos for most of the year.
Head up to the high-perched lookout points of Baboon Cliff for some dramatic views of the area, before hitting the winding dirt tracks that ring the water’s edge to spot Eastern black rhinos, baboons and countless migrating birds alike.
5. Hell’s Gate National Park
A narrow gap in the dramatic cliffs of the Rift Valley gave this park its sinister name – but it could well have been influenced by the geothermal activity beneath the ground.
Hot springs, geysers, extinct volcanoes and volcanic plugs create a surreal landscape. Birds of prey – including the rare lammergeyer – can be found here, and a Maasai Cultural Centre reveals the life of the surrounding communities.
Sat midway between the city of Nairobi and the backcountry town of Nakuru, Hell’s Gate covers a humble 68 square kilometers in the midst of southern Kenya.
A place of real natural beauty, it’s defined by startling and unforgettable rock formations that rise like splinters from the scrub-dressed ground.
Considered by many to have been the inspiration for the Disney film The Lion King, the area has high escarpments and deep valleys carved through its terrain, each bearing curious monikers like Fischer’s Tower and the great Embarta.
Between the gorges and canyons, you can expect to see wildebeest and vultures, African buffalo and Thomson’s gazelle, not to mention packs of lions to boot!
Other Places to Visit in Kenya
6. The Great Rift Valley
The Great Rift Valley is one of the most amazing geological wonders of the world. It passes through many countries in Africa and Asia leaving behind amazing features like volcanoes, escarpments, lakes, underground forests and so much more.
The Great Rift Valley covers a large part of Kenya and it would take a number of days to explore it fully. If there is little time on your side, you can explore a few of its features like the Ngong Hills, Hell’s Gate National Park or Lake Nakuru. Lake Nakuru sits on the floor of the rift valley and attracts many birders to Kenya each year.
7. Kakamega Forest Reserve
Kakamega forest was once part of a great rainforest that covered most of East and Central Africa. Climate change and human encroachment reduced the size of the forest living behind remnants (islands of forest) with most of it now in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The part left in Kakamega is home to unique creatures that cannot be found anywhere in Kenya. These creatures were left isolated in Kakamega after the forest stretch leading to Central Africa was cut off. The forest is home to 400 species of birds, cobras, de Brazza’s monkeys, pangolins, pottos, squirrels, vipers, giant hedgehogs and bush pigs.
Other spectacular attractions include waterfalls, rocks, rare giant trees that are believed to be over 100-year-old. The Entrance fee to the forest is about $25 for adults.
8. Mt. Kenya
Mt. Kenya is 5,199m of sheer beauty. If you want to see an array of flora and fauna, merged with freezing weather, and snow capped peaks, then this is the place to go. Scaling it is a bit of a chore, but it is totally worth it!
9. Kenyatta International Conference Center
If Nairobi is the center of Kenya, K.I.C.C is the center of Nairobi. The K.I.C.C is 105m tall, with 28 floors and a helipad that allows you to see all of Nairobi.
If you want a bird’s eye view of the city without having to hire a helicopter, then the helipad at the top of K.I.C.C is the place to be. The building also has some cultural shops and sections that allows you to soak in Kenya’s heritage. Visit: KICC
10. Fort Jesus
Perhaps the most popular tourist attraction in Mombasa, Fort Jesus is an ancient work of art. Built by the Portuguese in the 16th Century, the Fort served as a defense post for their slave trade routes in the Indian Ocean and the Kenyan Coast. It now has a museum that displays artifacts from that era, including painting and canons.
11. Mombasa Island
Mombasa is the second largest city in Kenya. It is also the busiest port in Kenya and the entire East African region. Mombasa has a unique culture from mainland Kenya because it was occupied for many centuries by the Arabs, Indians, Portuguese and British settlers.
Their influences can be observed in the cuisines, color of inhabitants, and architectural works. Intermarriages between the indigenous tribes and settlers gave rise to the Swahili culture and people of mixed heritage. Mombasa is a tourism hot spot with amazing beaches, islands, and ancient landmarks. Some of the amazing places to visit include the Mombasa Marine National Park, the historic old town, and Fort Jesus.
12. Diani beach
Diani beach is one of the leading beach resorts along the Kenyan coastline. The beach is found 30 km south of the Island of Mombasa and stretches for about 17 kilometers with a population of about 100,000 people. It is considered the best beach in East Africa.
It has been developed to international standards with modern bars, nightclubs, supermarkets, restaurants, world-class accommodation facilities, and an airstrip along the road leading to Mombasa. Diani beach stands out because of the white sand and calm waters that are protected by coral reefs. The beach is popular for a variety of water sports including jet-skiing, snorkeling, skydiving, and kitesurfing.
13. Kisumu City
Kisumu is Kenya’s inland answer to Mombasa. It is a Lake basin town that offers the same kind of weather, some beaches and a host of tourist attraction. Once you are done with Mombasa, you can travel inland towards Kisumu and see what else the country has to offer. Visit: Kisumu
Kisumu Impala Sanctuary
Only 0.4 square KM’s, the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary is a haven for capture problem animals. It has a host of Impala, two olive baboons, one spotted hyena, two leopards, and quite a number of vervet monkeys that are held in captivity.
You cannot really go wrong with museums, can you? The Kisumu Museum is one of the most informative hubs within the city. Those who are interested in learning a bit of Kenya’s heritage a little something about the Luo heritage should make a point to visit.
14. Mt. Elgon
Kenya has a host of mountains and ranges. Mt. Elgon is in Kitale, in the Western part of the country. Although, Mt. Elgon isn’t nearly as tall as Mt. Kenya, nor does it have snow-capped peaks, the mountain has amazing flora and fauna to call its own. It presents some of the best nature trails and a challenge to anyone looking to test their mountain climbing skills.
15. Karen Blixen Museum
This is particularly interesting to those who are fascinated by Karen Blixen’s story. The author of ‘Out of Africa’, lived in this house that has now been turned into a museum. Here, you will get a chance to sit, touch and see what Karen saw when she lived in Kenya. Visit: Karen Blixen Museum
Important Information while visiting Kenya
As a foreigner, you will be required to have a Visa before entering the country either from the border crossings or through the airport. Visas can be got from the airport and border crossings.
If you are planning to visit other East African countries, you might want to consider acquiring the East African Tourist Visa. The East African Tourist Visa allows tourists to visit Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda for a specific period of time. You can check out the information about the East African Tourist Visa or apply for it here.
Apart from the Visa, you might be required to show proof that you have been vaccinated against certain diseases. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is almost mandatory for any traveler who is older than one year.
Other important (not compulsory) inoculations are those against, tetanus, hepatitis and polio. To avoid catching malaria while on your vacation, it is advisable that you take anti-malarial drugs.
Summary of Best Places to Visit in Kenya
In summary, these are some of the 15 Best Places to Visit in Kenya. As a country, Kenya has a whole lot more to offer the world. These are just 15 of the best attractions in all of Kenya. Should you take the time and pleasure to travel and see them all, you will see that this truly is paradise on earth.